It’s not yet determined what will be done with the vacant lots. Some could potentially be used as sites for Habitat for Humanity homes, while other lots could be split among adjoining properties.
Several properties still belong to private owners and not the city. The property at 261 Oxford Road, for example, is owned by Wells Fargo.
“I kind of wish somebody would take it over and upgrade it and make it a nice home,” said neighbor Anthony Carr. “I’d rather see somebody living in there and maintaining it instead of empty space.”
The issue, Gebhart said, with the Oxford property is that the prior owner died and left the structure to family. Under threat of foreclosure, the property was stripped of its appliances and copper and left vacant. Once city officials condemned the property and prepared it for demolition they found the property loaded with more asbestos than they could remember ever finding in a residential property.
“We literally were shocked,” Gebhart said.
Already this year, the city has demolished 11 properties and could potentially pursue another round of tear-downs after the current cohort is demolished.
“We are continually working on condemnations and nuisance abatements,” Gebhart said. “It’s ongoing and as soon as we have another group of six, we can only do as many as possible through funding.”
In 2014, the city tore down 24 structures, followed in 2015 by 11 tear-downs including a former Elder-Beerman department store. In those years, money for demolitions was made available through a 2013 Moving Ohio Forward Grant, among other sources.
The bid for the current project went out in May and was awarded to Badger Construction, Inc.